September 14, 2012
Cahill focuses on being fit and fresh for the team
By Michael Lewis
|Tim Cahill: "The thing is, I need to make sure I stay professional."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
HARRISON, N.J. -- Sometimes you can tell a lot about a player from not what he necessarily does on the pitch, but rather off of it.
Today's example is Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill.
Only two hours after Australia lost at Jordan in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday night, Cahill was on a plane heading back to the United States. He wanted to be back at practice on Wednesday, so he could start preparing for the Red Bulls' key home match against the Columbus Crew on Saturday.
Cahill flew into Paris, had a two-hour layover and flew to the states. The trip was 11 hours. Because Australia plays in the Asian Confederation, Cahill sometimes has to fly halfway around the world to play for his country. He wouldn't have it any other way.
"It unfortunate with my job," he said. "It's a great team to play for and I love representing my country.
Cahill's a pro's pro. Whatever team you are playing for, that is first.
He understands that an athlete's life is finite and he have to take advantage of his youth and playing prime.
Asked what his secret was to keep fresh and fit, Cahill replied, "I've had this for most of my career with Australia. The thing is, I need to make sure I stay professional. When I get into camp I rest as much as possible and get treatment. We train twice a day. We have gym sessions in the morning and train in the afternoon. I think sometimes it helps you. For me, it helps you to be continually training and to be working hard and to be getting the treatment in the evenings and to be in that regimented situation.
"It's difficult being on two flights. I flew straight after the game at 1:30 in morning so I could get back to America time yesterday morning, to be fresh for today's training. The key is to be as professional as you can be and how serious you can take your job. This is MLS. I know I have to be fit to have three games in a week."
This is crunch time for the Red Bulls, who dropped into third place in the Eastern Conference after the Chicago Fire's 2-1 win over Toronto FC on Wednesday night. They need to win on several levels to keep pace with conference leaders Sporting Kansas City and to remain strong in the playoff race.
"What we have shown the last three weeks is a good consistency in our performance," Cahill said. "For us, it is consistency and disciplined performances and not conceding [goals]. We're at home and we definitely got to take the games to opponents coming up. Just training hard and doing what we've been doing in training. I'm excited that it's all there to play for and it's in our hands. It's up to us to do the business."
Cahill sounds like a walking advertisement for Major League Soccer. When his Australian teammates ask him about the league, he talks about the stadiums, fans and play, which can be physical.
"I think a lot of them already know about the stadiums, the fans," he said. "It was pretty surreal in Kansas City and Houston and the experiences I got there, enjoying the atmosphere and the fireworks and the fighter jets and how patriotic they are with the national anthem. I think to me, it's the whole experience. The level of fitness here and the way the players train and the way they keep their bodies, you have to be at the top of your game to play in this league.
He said the feedback from his international teammates was positive.
"It was the unknown for a lot of them," Cahill said. "The Australian boys tend to go to the Middle East and Asia and my choice was the MLS. . . . There is a reason why Premier League clubs and the best teams in the world play against MLS because the stadiums, the crowds and level of football. I know in my heart I made the right choice."
Judging by Cahill's early performances with his new team and his work ethic, it sounds like the Red Bulls made the right choice as well.